nonfiction november reading list

Inspired by an article by Anne Boyd Rioux about gender equity in nonfiction, Shannon (River City Reading) recently made it one of her goals to read more nonfiction by women. Rioux’s article, in written in response to the overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male, includes these really frustrating facts:

A recent study in Mayborn also showed that among all of the major prizes in nonfiction over the past 20 years, only 20 percent were won by women and five percent by people of color. The study also found that these results don’t simply prove jury bias; the percentage of books by women submitted to the major competitions was only 30 percent last year.

Like Shannon, I know that my nonfiction choices are dominated by men. And since payin attention is the best way to actually do something about it, I decided to borrow Shannon’s goal for my personal reading list for Nonfiction November. Once I started looking at my shelves, I realized I have a ton of great books by women to choose from. Here’s what’s on my stack (in addition to my book in our readalong):

  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (2010) – This is a book that looks at the way the War on Drugs is disproportionately hurting communities of color. Given what happened this summer in Ferguson, this is a must read.
  • Sex and the Citadel by Shereen El Feki (2013) – “As political change sweeps the streets and squares, the parliaments and presidential palaces of the Arab world, Shereen El Feki has been looking at an upheaval a little closer to home – in the sexual lives of men and women in Egypt and across the region.”
  • Factory Man by Beth Macy (2014) – A look at how one local manufacturer helped save a small town. I found this one randomly at the library and I’m intrigued.
  • The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg (2014) – This one just arrived in the mail yesterday, and I am so excited about it. In short, “An investigative journalist uncovers a hidden custom that will transform your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl.”
  • Minneapolis Madams by Penny Petersen (2013) – Apparently Minneapolis used to have a thriving red-light district run by politically powerful madams. Sounds interesting!
  • The News Sorority by Sheila Weller (2014) – After decades of male dominance, three women – Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour – have made it into the boys club. I’ve been excited about this one since I got it in the mail.

So there you have it – lots of great nonfiction by women to choose from. And just as an FYI, reading nonfiction during November isn’t a requirement for participating in our little celebration – it’s just something that I’m excited to do to try and get back into my nonfiction reading groove.


nonfiction november readalongs

One of my big goals for this year’s Nonfiction November — a month-long celebration of great nonfiction I’m co-hosting with Leslie (Regular Rumination), Katie (Doing Dewey) and Rebecca (I’m Lost In Books) — was to find a way for people who are not bloggers to participate. I love the discussion posts, but I think that format can be difficult for people who don’t have an online space of their own.

After some discussion, we decided that a readalong might be a way to open up the event to even more readers. We each picked a book we were excited about and polled all of you to see which book you’d be interested in reading with us.

After about a week, it became clear that there was a lot of interest in two of the four titles: The Restless Sleep by Stacy Horn and Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff. Rather than pick just one, we decided we would host separate readalongs for both books. Leslie and I will be hosting the readalong for The Restless Sleep and Katie and Rebecca will be in charge of Cleopatra.

They’ll both be low-key, with discussion/links posts going up on Wednesday, Nov. 19. We picked that date because we thought it would give people enough time to read the book while still wrapping up before the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. If you are a blogger, feel free to link up a review to that post. If you’re a reader, we’ll be doing discussion in the comments. We’ll also be trying to do some discussion of each book throughout the month on Twitter using the hashtag #nonficnov.

And to be clear, we’re not expecting people to do two readalongs (unless you want to, then go ahead, that’s amazing!). And if you don’t want to readalong, that’s ok too — we have the weekly discussion topics that are part of the celebration too. We want it to be low-key and fun and interesting for everyone. If either of these books sound appealing, I hope you’ll join us!


‘Without You, There Is No Us’ Brings Stories from Inside North Korea

October 21, 2014 Book Review

I love to read books that take me to places I will never get to see, or help illuminate cultures that, without an engaging guide, I will never have a chance to understand. One of my favorite books from 2013 that did just that was Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy, a look at lives of […]

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Currently | Rejuvenated by Reading

October 19, 2014 Currently

Time and Place | Just after 1 p.m. on my couch with the Vikings game on the background. I’ve been awake for awhile, but spent the morning chilling out with Gilmore Girls. Eating and Drinking | I’ve got lots of Readathon snacks left for today — gummi bears, peanut butter cups, and cheese rice cakes. Yum. Reading | There was […]

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Happy Fall 2014 Readathon!

October 18, 2014 Readathon

Whee! Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is finally here! I have seriously been looking forward to this day all week. Work has been a little insane and I could really use a day devoted (almost) entirely to reading. I’ll be doing most of my Readathon updates on Twitter (@kimthedork) and Instagram (kimthedork). I’m also planning to update this post with […]

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The Readathon is Coming!

October 16, 2014 Readathon

The Readathon is coming! This Saturday, October 18 is Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, one of my favorite book nerd days of the year. While I love the spring Readathon, I think the fall Readathon is my favorite — fall always feels like the right time to cuddle in and spend the day with books. I’ll have […]

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The Lost Story of ‘The Lost Tribe of Coney Island’

October 13, 2014 Book Review

American history is full of grand moments, terrible moments and what were they thinking moments. The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice is about one of those strange moments in history made even more bizarre by of the actions of carnival huckster who turned out to be a bigamist and a criminal. From the book […]

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Currently | Football Games and Gilmore Girls

October 12, 2014 Currently

Time and Place | 12:15 p.m. on my couch with my laptop and the Vikings game Eating and Drinking |  Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups — I need to find some real lunch soon. Reading | I didn’t have nearly enough reading time this week, but when I did grab a book I picked up The Lost Tribe […]

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Nonfiction November is Coming Back!

October 9, 2014 Communities

Last year, my dear book blogging friend Leslie (Regular Rumination) asked me if I’d be interested in joining her in a personal challenge to read and write exclusively about nonfiction in November. After we talked a little more, we decided that it would be fun to open up the project to host a low-key celebration of […]

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On Paying Attention to Reading Diversely

October 7, 2014 Musings

Since 2010, I’ve been very intentional about keeping track of all the books I read, along with some basic statistics about them. In addition to things like genre and format, I also tracked, primarily out of curiosity, author gender. As it turns out, without much intentional effort, I tend to read about equal or slightly […]

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